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By Concrete Playground
May 26, 2021
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By Concrete Playground
May 26, 2021
  shares

Flanked by some of the most gorgeous beaches on the south coast, including Bulli and Austinmer, Wollongong lives up to its Dharawal name, which translates to ‘sound of the sea’.

Inland, the Illawarra escarpment frames the city, providing a green screen perfect for bushwalking and picnics. Home to the University of Wollongong, the area is a burgeoning technology hub and is attracting people who want the opportunities of a big city, minus the traffic jams.

The Gong’s bustling arts scene boasts the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, the residence of the Merrigong Theatre Company, and Wollongong Art Gallery, one of the premier regional galleries in Australia. The city’s food and dining scene has gone from strength to strength, with restaurants, streetside cafes, pubs and small bars jostling for attention. Wollongong has all the amenities of a big city but there’s still room to spread your wings.

Flanked by some of the most gorgeous beaches on the south coast, including Bulli and Austinmer, Wollongong lives up to its Dharawal name, which translates to ‘sound of the sea’.

DID YOU KNOW

The Nan Tien Temple, sitting high on the hill in Berkeley (just south of town), is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere. A sense of peace can be found by taking a day trip, while weekend meditation retreats offer the chance to achieve true zen.

GETTING AROUND

Getting to Wollongong from Sydney takes a little over 90 minutes by train. A free shuttle bus runs from station to the major hubs, including the University and TAFE campuses, the centre of the city and, most importantly, the beaches. For those on two wheels, the city is trialling a series of new cycleways to help facilitate cycling.

PROPERTY PRICES

According to Realestate.com.au, the median house price in Wollongong is a little over $800,000, while units are sitting at about $565,500. With the median house price in Sydney sitting at a cool $1.03 million, it makes the 2500 postcode a desirable choice in the property buying matrix. Check out NAB’s Property Report to learn more, then use its Handy Home Loan Calculator to find out how much you can borrow. Or, book an appointment here.

LOCALS LOVE

The city has transformed its image in recent years, with the local hospitality industry reaching new heights. At the heart of this renaissance is the city’s thriving small bar scene and you can find gems, like Black Cockatoo and Births and Deaths, on the main thoroughfare or hidden down The Gong’s myriad laneways.

Living in Wollongong

Discover the spots that could become your new local favourites.

Cafes

Never fear, caffeine addicts. A decent cuppa joe can be found outside Sydney — and these spots prove it.

1. Diggies Cafe

A Wollongong institution serving all-day brunch right on the beach.

2. Lili J

Start your day with a BLAT croissant or the OG bacon and egg roll at this cosy corner cafe.

3. Goodies

Serving coffee so good you'll pick up a piece of merch on your way out.

4. Opus Coffee Brewers

Batch brews, bagels and muffins that'll make even the greatest of cynics happy.

5. Lee and Me

A cosy cafe based in a charming heritage house in the heart of Wollongong.

Restaurants

Sleek fine diner? Tick. Reliable date night spot? Tick. Affordable feast? Tick, tick, tick.

1. Babyface Kitchen

This Wollongong restaurant is committed to Aussie produce, native ingredients and natural wine.

2. The Throsby

Let this cosy wine bar's ever-changing menu delight and surprise you each time you visit.

3. Kneading Ruby

This warehouse restaurant has the most OTT garlic bread you'll ever order.

4. Two Smoking Barrels Barbecue Joint

You'll find this Carolina-style low-and-slow barbecue joint smack-bang between two car yards.

5. His Boy Elroy

A laneway bar in Wollongong serving American-style snacks and over 50 types of whisky.

Watering Holes

It should come as no surprise that Sydney's obsession with craft beer and natural wine has hit The Gong.

1. Illawarra Brewing Company Brewhouse

Take a tour at this Wollongong microbrewery — then try the beer from the source.

2. Howlin' Wolf Whisky Bar Wollongong

Beats, burgers and a whisky selection that is beyond belief.

3. The Black Cockatoo

Hiding behind a non-descript door in a retail store is a raucous dive bar with a killer craft beer lineup.

4. Juniper Bar

Get loose with $6 gin and juice on Thursdays at this small bar in Wollongong.

5. Night Parrot Wine Bar

Sip natural vino and down dumplings at this late-night Wollongong wine bar.

Outdoors

Surrounded by national park and epic coastline, Wollongong has ample outdoor activities right on its doorstep.

1. Jingga Walking Track

Venture 1.2 kilometres into Dharawal National Park for a dip in this freshwater swimming hole.

2. Wollongong Botanic Garden

Traipse 27 hectares of tranquil grounds, then pick up some plants to take home.

3. Darkes Glenbernie Orchard

Go fruit picking and sip cider at a family farm in Darkes Forest.

4. Mount Keira Lookout

A moderate hiking trail through lush rainforest — with the occasional ocean view.

5. Wollongong Nuns Pool

The ocean pool is tricky to get to — but oh-so-worth-it.

Leisure

The Gong's downtime options are as varied as they are abundant. Here are five to try.

1. Foragers Markets

Get your fill of local food and shop artisanal wares at these Wollongong markets.

2. Wollongong Art Gallery

One of Australia's largest regional galleries with almost 3000 works in its permanent collection.

3. Holey Moley Golf Club Wollongong

Putt through a chess board and The Simpsons' living room at this insane mini-golf bar.

4. Breakout Bar & Escape Rooms

Crack da Vinci's code or travel back to medieval times at this escape room-themed bar.

5. Dirty Wine

Wollongong's brand-new boutique natural wine store.

After-Dark Action

Live music, art bars and arcades — there's no danger of getting bored after hours in The Gong.

1. B. Lucky & Sons Wollongong

Holey Moley's adults-only arcade bar has opened in Wollongong.

2. UOW UniBar

Far from being just another student hangout, this is one of The Gong's best live music venues.

3. Births and Deaths - CLOSED

Enjoy cocktails and jaffles at this cocktail bar that doubles as an art gallery.

4. The Illawarra Hotel

The new-look Wollongong stalwart draws big names in the local music scene — and the crowds follow suit.

5. La La La's

A live music dive bar in Wollongong from the Yours and Owls crew.

Living in Wollongong

Discover the spots that could become your new local favourites.

CP's Picks

These are our favourite things to do in the area.

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